This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).





State of Minnesota,


Megan Ann Ryappy,


Filed August 28, 2007


Lansing, Judge



Crow Wing County District Court

File No. K0-04-268



Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and

Donald F. Ryan, Crow Wing County Attorney, Kristine R. DeMay, Assistant County Attorney, Suite 31, 213 Laurel Street, Brainerd, MN 56401 (for respondent)

Stephen V. Grigsby, Suite 101, 2915 South Wayzata Boulevard, Minneapolis, MN 55405 (for appellant)



            Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Following a probation-revocation hearing, Megan Ryappy filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea to the second-degree controlled substance crime for which she was on probation.  The district court concluded that the motion was untimely and that the withdrawal was not necessary to prevent manifest injustice.  On appeal, Ryappy argues that because the district court failed to state its reasons for a downward departure on the record during sentencing, she must be permitted to withdraw her plea.  Because receiving a probationary sentence rather than an executed prison sentence does not constitute a manifest injustice, we affirm.


            Megan Ryappy pleaded guilty in April 2005 to second-degree controlled substance crime.  Although her presumptive sentence was forty-eight months, the state agreed to a downward departure in exchange for her plea to the amended charge.  Under the plea agreement, Ryappy would receive a stay of imposition with twenty-five years of probation, either 120 days in jail or 120 days on electronic home monitoring, and a fine of $120.  The district court accepted Ryappy’s plea and imposed the plea-bargained sentence.

            After admitting to a number of probation violations, Ryappy appeared with a new attorney for a probation-revocation hearing in March 2006.  Ryappy moved to reinstate the original terms of her probation.  In the alternative, Ryappy moved to withdraw her guilty plea because the sentencing court had relied only on the plea agreement and had not stated additional reasons on the record for the downward departure. 

            After reviewing the sentencing transcript, the district court judge initially found that he had failed to provide reasons for granting a downward departure and therefore Ryappy should be allowed to withdraw her guilty plea.  The state moved for reconsideration, arguing that it had been given insufficient time to respond to Ryappy’s motion because it was served and decided at a hearing scheduled for another purpose.  In response to the state’s motion, the district court revoked its previous order that had permitted withdrawal of the guilty plea.  The district court reasoned that Ryappy’s motion was untimely because the state, adhering to its regular procedures, had not retained the methamphetamine and cocaine after a ninety-day period following entry of the guilty plea and that permitting withdrawal was not necessary to prevent manifest injustice.  Ryappy now appeals the district court’s decision.


            Once a guilty plea has been entered, a defendant does not have an absolute right to withdraw it.  Alanis v. State, 583 N.W.2d 573, 577 (Minn. 1998).  But a postconviction court may allow a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing if the motion is timely and withdrawal is “necessary to correct a manifest injustice.”  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1; Perkins v. State, 559 N.W.2d 678, 685 (Minn. 1997).  We review a district court’s plea-withdrawal decision for an abuse of discretion.  Kim v. State, 434 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. 1989).

            Ryappy argues that she must be permitted to withdraw her plea because the district court relied only on the plea agreement and did not state its reasons for granting a downward departure.  We conclude, however, that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Ryappy’s motion.

            A plea withdrawal may be permitted based on manifest injustice if the guilty plea was not “accurate, voluntary, and intelligent.”  Perkins, 559 N.W.2d at 688.  In this case, Ryappy has provided no reason to conclude that her plea was inaccurate or was improperly induced.  Instead, she argues that the district court’s failure to provide reasons for the downward departure constitutes a manifest injustice.

            Minnesota has a clear “public policy of achieving uniformity in sentencing.”  State v. Maurstad, 733 N.W.2d 141, 146 (Minn. 2007).  To achieve uniformity, a district court can depart from the sentencing guidelines only if it states in the record the substantial and compelling reasons justifying the departure.  State v. Misquadace, 644 N.W.2d 65, 69 (Minn. 2002).  If the district court gives noreason for the departure, then the presumptive sentence must be imposed.  State v. Geller, 665 N.W.2d 514, 517 (Minn. 2003). 

            The district court accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Ryappy to the plea-bargained sentence, but did not make independent findings justifying the downward departure.  Applying the reasoning of Geller, Ryappy should receive the presumptive sentence.  Id.  But as a matter of due process, Ryappy could not be given the presumptive sentence because it would be longer than the plea-bargained sentence.  See State v. Wukawitz, 662 N.W.2d 517, 522 (Minn. 2003) (“[I]f a guilty plea is induced by a government promise, such a promise must be fulfilled or due process is violated.”).  Thus, the reasoning in Geller provides no relief for Ryappy.  Unless Ryappy can withdraw her plea, the original sentence stands even though the district court did not provide independent reasons for the downward departure.

            We conclude, however, that maintaining Ryappy’s original sentence does not create a manifest injustice that entitles Ryappy to withdraw her plea.  A motion for a plea withdrawal involves different policy considerations than a direct appeal from sentencing.  In a sentencing appeal, we are guided by the legislature’s command that sentencing pursuant to the guidelines “is not a right that accrues to a person convicted of a felony; it is a procedure based on state public policy to maintain uniformity, proportionality, rationality, and predictability in sentencing.”  Minn. Stat. § 244.09, subd. 5 (2006).  Thus, in evaluating a sentencing appeal, we focus on broader policy questions rather than the prejudice to individual defendants.  Cf. Misquadace, 644 N.W.2d at 71 (concluding that defendant’s agreement to sentence was insufficient to permit upward departure). 

Motions for plea withdrawal, in contrast, require us to balance the state’s interest in the finality of convictions with the individual’s interest in avoiding inaccurate and involuntary guilty pleas.  See generally Kaiser v. State, 641 N.W.2d 900, 903 (Minn. 2002) (discussing finality of convictions).  Plea withdrawal is not designed as a tool for manipulating the courts.  See Chapman v. State, 282 Minn. 13, 16, 162 N.W.2d 698, 700 (1968) (discussing strategic tactics in plea withdrawals).  Thus, in considering a motion for plea withdrawal, we properly consider whether the defendant was actually treated unjustly.  See State ex rel. Kons v. Tahash, 281 Minn. 467, 468, 161 N.W.2d 826, 828 (1968) (holding that error in arraignment procedure does not permit plea withdrawal if there was no “miscarriage of justice” and defendant was not denied his constitutional rights).  The injustice must manifest itself in the facts of the case before us.  Minn. R. Crim. P. 15.05, subd. 1. 

            In this case, Ryappy was not prejudiced by the district court’s failure to justify the downward departure.  She received the benefit of the plea bargain and received a sentence that was less restrictive than the presumptive sentence.  Furthermore, the district court’s failure to comply with the requirements for imposing a sentencing departure does not reveal any greater flaw in Ryappy’s guilty plea.  The record contained sufficient evidence to allow the district court properly to impose the downward departure.  The record indicates that at the time of sentencing Ryappy was planning to obtain treatment for her chemical-dependency issues, that her parents were at the hearing to support her, and that she felt “really bad about what happened.”  Therefore, the district court could have found that Ryappy was amenable to probation and could have justified the downward departure on that basis.  See State v. Trog, 323 N.W.2d 28, 31 (Minn. 1982) (holding that amenability to probation can justify downward departure). 

            Ryappy has failed to show that the failure to comply with the sentencing guidelines resulted in a more restrictive sentence or that the violation reveals that her plea was not accurate, voluntary, and intelligent.  Although the sentencing procedure failed to comply with the guidelines, Ryappy’s guilty plea was not invalid.  Ryappy has failed to show that plea withdrawal is necessary to avoid manifest injustice.  Therefore, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to permit Ryappy to withdraw her plea.  Because manifest injustice does not require plea withdrawal, we need not address the district court’s conclusion that Ryappy’s motion was untimely because of the prejudice to the state.